Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Soldier On CHAPTER ONE by Sydney Logan


I am exceedingly pleased to share the first chapter of SOLDIER ON by Sydney Logan with you!
This is the next book you need to read. It comes out on June 20, and you can pre-order it now.

Enjoy this sneak peek at Brandon and Steph...




 
 Release Date: June 20
Genres: Romance/Military/New Adult

  
Will his call of duty break both their hearts?

Losing her father in Desert Storm has left Stephanie James with a bitter soul when it comes to the military. As a college senior juggling a full course load, Steph's only goal is to graduate with honors at the end of the semester. She’s focused, determined, and a firm believer in all work and no play. Then she meets Brandon Walker at a New Year’s Eve costume party. Despite his disguise, Steph finds herself attracted to the camouflaged soldier who curls her toes with a scorching midnight kiss.

Brandon is an engineering major and ROTC student from the hills of Kentucky. Growing up as the son of a major general has given Brandon firsthand knowledge of the struggles military families sometimes face. Now that his father’s memory is fading, Brandon is even more determined to make his dad proud and graduate as an officer in the United States Army. Then he meets Stephanie, and suddenly, his focus is less on his military service and more on the pretty brunette who has stolen his heart. When he becomes aware of Steph’s resentment toward the military, he worries their relationship is doomed. 


When faced with the realization that she's fallen in love with a soldier, can Steph’s wounds from the past be healed with love in her present . . . and in her future?


Soldier On
© 2014 Sydney Logan

Chapter 1

I’m going to kill Tessa for dragging me here.

What started out as just a few friends quickly turned into a rowdy frat house mixer on New Year’s Eve. Hip-hop music blares, and the thick, smoky haze makes me sick to my stomach. The co-eds who can still stand are dancing in the middle of the living room. Some have found secluded areas of the house to make out, while others play video games in the den.

I get it. This is all supposedly part of the college experience. But keg parties are the one aspect of campus life I despise, and I guarantee I’m the only one drinking soda instead of beer. I’ve always hated the smell, and I definitely hate the taste. Besides, I see nothing fun about puking in the bushes or hooking up with random guys. I’m not a prude, but I can recognize a stupidly dangerous situation when I see one, and this party is a recipe for disaster.

I check my watch and notice it’s close to midnight, so I send a quick text to Tessa, my best friend and roommate, to see if she needs a ride back to the apartment. Knowing Tessa and her boyfriend, Xavier, they are probably one of the couples in the upstairs bedrooms. If that’s the case, my presence is no longer required. I hope that’s the case.

While waiting for her reply, a guy dressed as Luke Skywalker walks up to me.

If he asks me to touch his lightsaber, I’m out of here.

“Can I get you a drink?”

His breath reeks of alcohol, and my stomach twists. I lift the red plastic cup that hasn’t left my hand all night.

“No, thanks. I’m good.”

His gaze sweeps over my costume. “Nice dress.”

“Thanks.”

“Disney, right? That girl who likes to read.”

“Right.”

Dressing up as Belle from Beauty and the Beast had seemed like a good idea at the time. The party’s theme was “Movie Night,” and Tessa had found this short and sexy version of Belle’s yellow dress in a vintage costume store in town.

Belle had never shown this much leg. Or cleavage.

The guy steps closer. “So, Belle, wanna dance?”

“My name’s Stephanie.”

“Okay . . . Stephanie. Wanna dance?”

“No, thanks.”

“Wanna touch my lightsaber?”

Totally called it.

“No, but I’ll be happy to break it.”

The guy’s face pales before he quickly slinks back into the shadows.

With a disgusted sigh, I toss my cup into a nearby, overflowing trash can before maneuvering my way through the dancers and up the stairs in search of my best friend. Bravely, I try a few of the rooms, but all are locked except for a set of open double doors at the end of the hallway.

Curious, I step inside, and I’m instantly mesmerized.

Frat houses have libraries?

This one does, complete with ceiling-high bookshelves. Laptops line one wall, and a giant multimedia screen is attached to another. While all of it is impressive, nothing excites my book-loving heart more than to see the library ladder.

Secretly, I’ve always wanted to climb one—the tall ladders that roll from one end of the shelves to the other. Ironically enough, library ladders always remind me of Beauty and the Beast. Or the love scene in Atonement.

One of those movies is G-rated. The other most definitely is not.

Suddenly nervous, I look over my shoulder before making my decision.

YOLO. Carpe Diem. Whatever.

Slipping off my shoes, I reach for the ladder and slowly begin to climb. Sadly, this is the most adventurous thing I’ve done in a long time, and I can’t stop smiling. I’ve made it to the fifth rung when I hear someone clear his throat.

Crap. Please don’t be Luke Skywalker.

I hold on tightly and manage to turn myself around without falling off. When I’m sure I’m steady, I turn and find myself looking into the eyes of a soldier. Possibly Army. Maybe Marine.

Not that it matters. I accepted long ago that my hatred for anything military related is a little unhealthy, but when the service strips a girl of the privilege of knowing her father, it sometimes makes a person bitter.

I am the epitome of bitter.

This particular soldier is smiling at me, and I can’t lie, the smile is kind of beautiful. Despite that, my first instinct is to roll my eyes at his outfit. But then, I remember this is a costume party, and he probably just needed a quick and totally uncreative disguise.

“I don’t think this room is open to visitors,” he says, his tone soft and deep.

I wonder if that’s his natural speaking voice or if he’s just playing his role as a badass. The guy certainly looks like a soldier, dressed in his head-to-toe camouflage and smeared-on face paint.
“It was actually the only room that wasn’t locked, which is kind of stupid if you ask me. This is the one room in the house you guys shouldn’t want trashed. Drunken idiots could really do some damage in here.”

He grins, and my breath catches in my throat as he steps closer. I tighten my hold on the ladder, because a smile that makes a girl’s heart race isn’t the best thing when she’s trying to maintain her balance.

“I noticed you downstairs.”

Embarrassed, I glance down at my ridiculous dress. “I’m a little hard to miss in canary yellow. I’m going to kill Tessa—”

“That’s not why I noticed you.”

He’s closer now, with one hand pressed against the shelf behind me. He’s tall, but thanks to the ladder, we’re practically nose-to-nose. Normally, I would be frightened of a complete stranger invading my space, but honestly, this is the most relaxed I’ve felt all night. With his athletic build, there’s no doubt he could hurt me if he wanted, but I’m not afraid. For one thing, his breath doesn’t stink and his speech isn’t slurred. For another, he’s gazing at me with a pair of big brown eyes that make my stomach do this weird somersault-thing, and my stomach hasn’t done somersaults in a very long time.

Before I can ask why he noticed me, shouts erupt from downstairs.

“Ten, nine, eight . . .”

“Do you have someone to kiss at midnight?” he asks.

I simply shake my head. He steps closer, pinning me between his body and the bookshelf.

“You do now.”

Horns blare below, but I barely notice because in the next second, his mouth covers mine. His lips are feather light and sweet, causing warmth to spread through my veins and settle in my heart. I sigh, causing my lips to part slightly, allowing him to deepen the kiss. One of his hands stroke my cheek as he leans in, pressing his body tighter against mine. His quiet groan vibrates through me, and I’m ready to let go of the ladder and wrap my arms around him when he suddenly pulls away.

“Wow,” he whispers.

I’ll say.

I open my eyes, and all I can see is his smile.

“Happy New Year,” he says.

Then he’s gone, sprinting from the room before I can even formulate a coherent response.
In a daze, I carefully climb down the ladder and step into my shoes. While the celebration roars below my feet, I flip off the lights and close the door before heading downstairs.

“There you are!” Tessa says, grabbing my arm as I reach the landing. “I’ve been looking all over the place for you since I got your text. I am so ready to go. Xavier wants to stay and play video games, but I’m . . . Steph? Are you okay?”

“I’m fine.”

She squints and examines my face. “Have you been drinking? You never drink.”

“No, I haven’t been drinking.”

“Are you sure? Because you look a little drunk.”

Shaking my head, I snap out of my daze and pull her toward the door. It’s only when we’re outside in the frigid air do I manage to come to my senses. I spin toward my best friend, whose eyes grow wide as I tell her about my New Year’s kiss.

“Steph, that’s amazing! What’s his name?”

The simple question kills my momentary excitement and knocks me right out of my dazed state.
I just had the most perfect kiss of my life, and I don’t even know his name.

***

“Is that you, Steph?”

“It’s me.”

I let the door slam behind me and drop my backpack on the floor. The apartment smells delicious, but right now, all I want is the couch. The first day of classes seriously kicked my ass.

Tessa runs out of the kitchen, wiping her hands on the apron tied around her waist. “Xavier’s coming for dinner. I’m making meatloaf.”

Tessa and Xavier have been together since sophomore year, and it’s a rare night when he isn’t here for dinner. Or waking up just in time for breakfast. At six-foot-seven and two hundred twenty five pounds, Xavier is a power forward for the basketball team and eats enough at dinner to feed a third world country. They are a match made in heaven because Tessa loves to cook. On special occasions, she loves to break out her Abuela’s cookbook and experiment with elaborate Mexican dishes that I can’t pronounce but will gladly eat. Her major is culinary arts, and she hopes to open her own restaurant someday.

“It smells great. Can I help?”

“Nope, but you can call your mom.”

“I’d rather help.”

Tessa smirks. “Stop that. Your mom is great.”

“No argument here.”

“And she finally gave me her kickass oatmeal raisin cookie recipe that I’m dying to try.”

“You know, sometimes I step on the scale and wonder how I’ve gained twenty-five pounds since my freshman year. Then I remember I’m living with Rachael Ray.”

Tessa laughs. “Whatever. Call your mom. Dinner will be ready in about twenty minutes.”

Sighing tiredly, I take my backpack and head to my room. After quickly changing into a pair of yoga pants and a T-shirt, I grab my cell and climb onto my bed. In an instant, my calico cat joins me.

“Hey, pretty girl.” I scratch behind her ears while she purrs and snuggles close. I’ve had Bangle since my senior year of high school. She’s just one of the many reasons I’m thankful to no longer be living in the dorms. The separation anxiety was hard for both of us.

Snuggling time doesn’t last long. Bangle suddenly jumps off the bed and trots out of the room, probably on the hunt for food. My suspicions are confirmed when I hear Tessa’s voice echo from the kitchen.

“You know the rules, Bangle. No meatloaf for kitties.”

I laugh and scroll through my phone, tapping on my mom’s name.

“Hello?”

“Miss me?”

Mom laughs. “Is it that obvious?”

Growing up, it had just been the two of us in our tiny two-bedroom house. Only an hour separates us now, but Mom had still taken it hard when I decided to move away.

“Mom, we’ve talked every day, and I’ve only been gone a few weeks.”

“I know. I just got used to having you around at Christmas.”

We talk about my first day of classes and the six inches of snow that are predicted for tomorrow. Living in Indiana is always a crapshoot when it comes to winter weather. I’d worn a T-shirt and light jacket to class today. Tomorrow, I would need my snow boots.

“Have you met any cute guys?”

I automatically think about the soldier from the New Year’s Eve party. It still surprises me how attracted I was, in spite of his military gear. Like a crazy person, I had actually looked around campus today, hoping to catch a glimpse of him. Unfortunately, he would have to be wearing his camo costume and thick face paint for me to recognize him.

“Oh, I hear a pause.”

“There was no pause.”

“Stephanie Lynn, lying to your mother is a sin.”

“That hasn’t worked since I was ten. What is it with you and your obsession with me finding a boyfriend?”

Mom sighs. “You just work too hard. You always have.”

“A strong work ethic is an admirable trait.”

“It is. I’d just like to see you have some fun this last semester, that’s all.”

Last semester. Such sweet words.

“With six classes and my job at the library, having fun is the last thing on my mind. I have to focus if I want to graduate in May.”

“I know. You just can’t wait to get out into the real world. But what have I always told you?”

I close my eyes and repeat my mother’s mantra. “Don’t be in such a hurry to work, because once you start, you’ll never stop. Let yourself be young as long as you can.”

“That’s right. Just promise me you’ll do something fun this last semester. Do something adventurous before you devote the rest of your life to your teaching career.”

I know it’s pointless to argue.

“Fine, I promise.”

After we say goodnight, I think about my mom and her preoccupation with my lack of a social life. Getting married right after high school and becoming a mother, and a widow, by the time she was twenty had forced her to become an adult way too soon. She worked two jobs—one as the secretary at my elementary school and another as a freelance photographer on the weekends. Mom has worked hard all her life. She just wants me to experience all the things she missed.

Like I always do when I’m feeling anxious or confused, I reach into my shirt and pull out the silver ball chain. The cold metal of the dog tags against my skin serves as a constant reminder of the father I never knew. They are my only real connection to my dad and definitely my most prized possession.

When I think about my mom, and how lonely she has been for the past twenty-two years, I’m reminded why I hate the military so much.

And why I’m in no hurry to fall in love.

© 2014 Sydney Logan


 
http://www.amazon.com/Sydney-Logan/e/B0096LZK90/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1401309284&sr=1-1
Regular Price: $2.99 (ebook) 



 
Sydney Logan is an Amazon bestselling author and holds a Master's degree in Elementary Education. With the 2012 release of her debut novel, Lessons Learned, she made the transition from bookworm to author. Her second novel, Mountain Charm, was released in 2013. She is also the author of four short stories – Mistletoe MagicThe Little Drummer BoyForce of Nature, and Stupid Cupid. A native of East Tennessee, Sydney enjoys playing piano and relaxing on her porch with her wonderful husband and their very spoiled cat.

2 comments:

  1. Excellent first chapter, Sydney! Thanks, Kathie, for posting it! :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. I am actually reading now for Sydney's tour and am loving it but then again, I always love her stories!

    ReplyDelete